SEA Games basketball to be held at MOA Arena, after all
The highly anticipated basketball events in the Southeast Asian Games will be held at SM Mall of Asia Arena, the modern, 15,000-seater venue that was earlier said to be unavailable for the meet.
This was confirmed by Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee chief operating officer Ramon “Tats” Suzara who had a meeting with Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas officials.
Suzara, Philippine Olympic Committee president Ricky Vargas and SBP president Al Panlilio issued a statement Wednesday.
“We heard the voices of our people. We were also made aware that some sectors have started to put the blame on certain agencies without really understanding the complexities of the situation,” said the statement.
“Holding an event in this magnitude is a shared responsibility among different sports elders and even our people,” added the statement. “This event is a showcase of our capacity to hold massive regional sporting events.”
Suzara said they MOA Arena has finally accommodated the basketball meet which is considered the main attraction in the biennial meet, besting the traditional centerpiece events of track and field and swimming.
Basketball events will be held Dec. 4-10, although practice for men’s and women’s is set for Dec. 1-3.
The MOA Arena staged the Fiba Asia Championships in 2013 and the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in 2016.
But it was reported last week that it couldn’t hold the basketball games due to several events that were booked already.
Instead, the smaller FilOil Flying V Center was tapped, triggering reaction from the basketball-crazy nation.
“As requested by POC president and PBA chair Ricky Vargas, to the SBP which we agreed, we want to bring nothing less but the best PBA talent that we can assemble. We want to win the gold medal in baseball and the SBP is fully committed to make this a reality,’ said Panlilio.
The Philippines has won 17 of the 19 previous stagings and has held the championship for the past 12 SEA Games.
It would be the first time SEAG basketball is held here since 1991 Manila edition. The country was under sanction by the Fiba (international basketball federation) when the Philippines also hosted in 2005.